Building Muscle on a Calorie Deficit

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Because the human body is designed to sacrifice muscle when losing weight as a survival mechanism, only a certain body type will permit the simultaneous growth of muscle and loss of overall mass. If you’re significantly overweight, your body may be able to support increased muscle mass even on a caloric deficit, provided it has less fat to maintain. If you’re relatively lean and/or muscular, however, it is much more difficult for your body to increase muscle mass while experiencing a caloric deficit.

While a caloric deficit implies that you’re eating less food overall, it is possible to increase your protein intake during a caloric deficit by adjusting your diet to include more protein-rich foods. To succeed in building muscle and losing weight simultaneously, consume 1.6 g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight daily. To meet this goal, you’ll likely have to rely heavily on protein sources, such as meat, fish, beans, eggs and tofu. You may also consider a powdered protein supplement.

To build muscle while losing weight, you’ll have to train with a high degree of intensity. Since the body’s natural inclination is to sacrifice muscle when losing weight, training is the only way to provide a stimulus that lets your body know that muscle is needed. To maximize this stimulus, focus of heavy, compound exercises, such as the bench press, shoulder press, bent-over row, squat and deadlift. For each exercise, perform three to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions for maximum muscular hypertrophy potential.

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Carbs go First and Fats Second

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Primarily Carbohydrates

The first fuel that your body breaks down for energy is carbohydrates. After a meal, your body is in the “fed” state and preferentially breaks down carbohydrates since they are easily accessible and turned into energy. After your body has used up the carbohydrates from a meal or snack, your cells begin to break down glucose stored in your muscles and liver known as glycogen. Glycogen stores vary in each person, but are typically depleted within 24 hours, meaning your body has to begin breaking down other compounds for energy.

Fat Preferentially Metabolized

When glucose and glycogen are not available, your body preferentially breaks down fatty compounds known as triacylglycerols which are present in adipose or fat tissue. Because fat is a high-energy source with nine calories per gram, fat provides an efficient fuel source. Additionally, your body metabolically prefers to preserve lean body mass and, when possible, breaks down fat stores for fuel as much as possible. Only when your fat stores are extremely low or depleted does your body have to then break down protein.

Muscle Breakdown

When glucose and fat stores are depleted, your body will then turn to muscle to break down into individual amino acids for energy. Unlike carbohydrates and fat, your body does not store amino acids, which is why muscle breakdown is the only way to release amino acids for fuel. In typical conditions where you are eating on a regular basis, your body will not use muscle for energy. Typically, protein is used for fuel only in a starvation state. Because you need muscle tissue to survive and move, the natural tendency of metabolism is to spare muscle tissue and break down carbohydrates and fat first.

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Turmeric

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Turmeric (Curcuma longa), the bright yellow of the spice rainbow, is a powerful medicine that has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain, and colic.

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Broccoli

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The greener the vegetables, the better for your body. Broccoli is a great snack you can eat raw, or steamed. It lowers cholesterol, gets rid of toxins and is packed with vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin K. If you’re busy, you’re better off packing raw broccoli florets in a bag, and eating them on the go.

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Blueberries

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Blueberries are a superfood that you can enjoy anytime. They are one of the highest antioxidant-containing fruits in the world, and you can eat them raw, in smoothies or in yogurt. Studies have shown that eating blueberries after a workout can help your muscles recover much quicker because antioxidants help promote healing. Blueberries are also packed with vitamin K, vitamin C and fiber.

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Lateral plyometric

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Lateral plyometric jumps are advanced exercises that can be used to develop power and agility. The vast majority of athletes perform workouts and exercises that focus on forward motion, but it’s also important for athletes to include exercises that target powerful, and stable, lateral motion exercises as well.

If you play a sport that incorporates any sort of side-to-side movements, practicing these moves during training is crucial.

Lateral movements not only improve strength, stability and coordination, they also help reduce the risk of injuries by enhancing balance and proprioception through the whole body.

They improve overall hip, knee and ankle joint stability. Lateral drills also help build more balanced strength in the muscles of the lower body, including the hip abductors and adductors.

These lateral drills will improve sports performance, and reduce the risk for sports injuries, particularly for athletes who frequently, or abruptly, change direction, cut or pivot. Athletes who benefit the most from side-to-side agility drills are those who play field and court sports (soccer, basketball, football, rugby and tennis), as well as skiers, skaters, gymnasts, and even rock climbers.

Athletes need to maintain power, control and balance during fast side-to-side lateral motion and transitions.

In general, an athlete can generate power in two ways: (1) using his own body weight, or (2) pushing or throwing something heavy.

Plyometric movements are one of the easiest and most effective ways for athletes to generate and increase power. The lateral plyometric jump is one exercise that primarily uses an athlete’s body weight to generate power.

Before doing the lateral plyometric jumps, a good place for athletes to begin building lower body power is by doing simple agility drills (such as ladder drills and dot drills) then slowly build up to tuck jumps. Other good additions to the plyometric routine include: all-out sprints, stair running/bounding, and burpees.

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Core

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In everyday activities and exercise, balance and stability matter. Core strength training improves both. Core strength training not only works the muscles in the hips, abdomen and back, it also trains them to all work and function together. It builds coordination between these muscles, and working together balances and stabilizes your body.

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Agility

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Agility exercises can help you gain better control of your body and its movements, honing your ability to change directions quickly and efficiently, without sacrificing speed or balance. While these are typically done by athletes to improve their performance, agility exercises can also be performed by non-athletes to enhance their balance or simply to add variety to their normal fitness routine.

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Muscle Soreness

The mild muscle strain injury creates microscopic damage to the muscle fibers. Scientists believe this damage, coupled with the inflammation that accompanies these tears, causes the pain.

“The aches and pains should be minor,” says Carol Torgan, an exercise physiologist and fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, “and are simply indications that muscles are adapting to your fitness regimen.”

No one is immune to muscle soreness. Exercise neophytes and body builders alike experience delayed onset muscle soreness.

“Anyone can get cramps or DOMS, from weekend warriors to elite athletes,” says Torgan. “The muscle discomfort is simply a symptom of using your muscles and placing stresses on them that are leading to adaptations to make them stronger and better able to perform the task the next time.”

But for the deconditioned person starting out, this can be intimidating. People starting an exercise program need guidance, Torgan says.

“The big problem is with people that aren’t very fit and go out and try these things; they get all excited to start a new class and the instructors don’t tell them that they might get sore,” she says.

“To them they might feel very sore, and because they aren’t familiar with it, they might worry that they’ve hurt themselves. Then they won’t want to do it again.”

Letting them know it’s OK to be sore may help them work through that first few days without being discouraged.

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